Teens ticketed for driving in Dinkle
November 25, 2014
Three teenage drivers from the Roaring Fork Valley and one from New Castle have agreed to pay $550 each for damage caused when they drove vehicles into the muddy bed of Dinkle Lake at the base of Mount Sopris late in October.
The youths were cited for driving off a designed roadway and, as a separate charge, resource damage caused by a motor vehicle, according to Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Karen Schroyer.
"There will be no court appearance as long as they pay the fine," Schroyer said. "If the fines are not paid, they will be summoned to appear in court in front of the federal magistrate judge."
In theory, they could be sentenced to up to a year in jail as well.
The Forest Service declined to release the drivers' names because they cooperated and were "remorseful" for the damage, according to Schroyer. Their ages weren't available.
The Pitkin County Sheriff's Office alerted a White River National Forest Law Enforcement Officer about the vehicles stuck in Dinkle Lake on Oct. 26. Water had receded from the pond, which is used for irrigation by midvalley ranchers. Dinkle Lake is roughly 7.5 miles southeast of Carbondale via Prince Creek Road and Forest Road 311. The four-wheel-drive vehicles drove onto the muddy lake bed and four of them got stuck, Schroyer said. By the time the law enforcement officer arrived, three of the four vehicles had been pulled out of the mud with assistance from friends.
Schroyer said there was significant damage to the lake bed, though she doesn't know if any was permanent. Pictures show numerous deep, tire treads were left in the dirt.
Schroyer said in a statement that the incident "is a good example of the laws and regulations concerning illegal off-road vehicle use in sensitive areas.
"I hope that through this example, people will realize the benefits of the need to stay on designated routes with their four-wheel-drive vehicles. Go where you're supposed to and you won't get a ticket," Schroyer said.